1L Guide on Criminal Law

This is an introductory guide for 1Ls enrolled in Criminal Law during the 2014-15 academic year.

Court Decisions

Your casebooks provide excerpts from recent and historical criminal law decisions. If you are interested in reading more from these decisions, here are a few places you can look for them online. The case book will provide the parties' names, the name of the court, and the date of the decision. Stop by the reference desk if you need help using this information to search for the full text of any court opinion.

CALI Lessons

CALI (Computer Assisted Legal Instruction) has several good interactive lessons pertaining to Criminal Law: at:  http://www.cali.org/category/cali-topics/criminal-law

You will need to register with CALI.  The school authorization code can be obtained from the reference desk.  Below is a list of subjects which may help you in your classwork, along with their links.  Many more subjects are available at the CALI link above.

Lessons: Criminal Law

Actus Reus   40 minutes

Causation    35 minutes

Constitutional Limitations: 8th Amendment    35 minutes

Defense of Others   25 minutes

Duty to Retreat    25 minutes

Excuses II: Insanity and Infancy    30 minutes 

Homicide (Causation)    45 minutes 

Homicide (Causation - Part II)    45 minutes 

Homicide (Felony Murder)    45 minutes

Homicide (Involuntary Manslaughter)    45 minutes 
Homicide (Murder by Degrees)    45 minutes
Homicide (Murder)   35 minutes 
Homicide (Unlawful Act Manslaughter)   40 minutes
Introduction to Homicide   25 minutes 

Justification Defenses: Excuse Defenses Distinguished   30 minutes

Mistake as to the Law Defining the Offense   25 minutes

Punishment: Theories   30 minutes

Self-Defense    25 minutes

Sources of Criminal Law    10 minutes

The Mens Rea of Attempts   20 minutes

The Mens Rea of Knowledge    20 minutes

The Mens Rea of Negligence    20 minutes

The Mens Rea of Purpose   Lesson Completion Time: 20 minutes 


Journal Articles

LexisNexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law include the text of many U.S., Canadian and British law journals. Law students have individual passwords for each of these databases.

The Hein Online database includes libraries of American Bar Association Journals, Bar Journals, Core U.S. Journals, and Most-Cited Law Journals, all in pdf format.

The Social Science Research Network's (SSRN) Legal Scholarship Network (LSN) is a searchable collection of much recent scholarship on a variety of legal issues.

Santa Clara Law's journals and the recent scholarship of several Santa Clara Law professors are now available on our Digital Commons.

The law library also subscribes to a variety of legal periodical indices. Some of these indices link to the full text of articles indexed, but many provide bibliographic information only. Ask for help at the reference desk if you need help finding the text of a cited article.


Criminal Law is not a listed practice area on Bloomberg Law. However, you can search All Legal Content, more specific content (e.g., Court Opinions, Books & Treatises, News), or use more specific searches (e.g., Citation Search, Docket Search, Legislative Search, News Search) to locate material related to criminal law.


WestlawNext allows you to search all content (using, e.g., a case name, citation, phrase, author, article or treatise name) then limit results using categories in the left-hand column or the pull-down menu to the right of the search box.

Two major legal encyclopedias -- AmJur 2nd and CJS -- are available on Westlaw. So are CalJur and  Witkin's California Treatises.

When you are using Westlaw Classic, rather than WestlawNext, go to the Westlaw Directory, select Topical Materials by Area of Practice, then select Criminal Law. Under this heading, materials are arranged by type (e.g., State Cases; Legal Periodicals, Texts & Practice Materials; Forms, Treatises, CLEs, & Other Practice Material).

The lawschool version of Westlaw also provides courseware (TWEN), which your professor may prefer to ClaraNet or Camino (see the boxes to the right of this page). if your class has a TWEN page, your professor will tell you how to access it.


ClaraNet is courseware which many SCU Law professors use to post course materials. To locate relevant materials, search the Main Index -- the first link on the ClaraNet home page -- for the name of your professor or course (Criminal Law). Check the Year column to make sure you have the most recent materials.

Camino (Angel)

Some SCU Law professors prefer Canvas courseware (formerly known as Angel). You can use the Coursesearch link on the Camino home page to check for materials or sign on to Camino using your SCU Network ID and password.


In addition to court opinions and legislation, LexisNexis provides a variety of secondary sources about criminal law, including the contents of treatises such as 

LexisAdvance allows you to search, browse topics, or browse sources. You can enter search terms (a case name, citation, phrase, author, article, or treatise name) in the main search box,  then limit results using the left-hand column (e.g., by jurisdiction or source). Using headings above the search box, you can browse topics or an alphabetical list of sources.

The lawschool version of Lexis also provides courseware, which your professor may prefer to ClaraNet or Camino (see the boxes to the right of this page). If your class has a Lexis page, your professor will tell you how to access it.

Heafey Law Library Research Team